The San Juan Regional Planning Commission expressed support for alternative energy projects in the county on Tuesday, but said the town site of Eureka is not the right place for a 130-foot-tall wind turbine.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend the San Juan County Board of Commissioners reject a plan to build such a turbine at Eureka.
Planning Commission member Beverly Rich said the project would be “highly invasive on an historic site in San Juan County. It’s against our ordinance and against the will of our comprehensive plan.”
The wind power proposal was put forward by Vladimir Deriugin of Tacoma, Wash., who describes himself as a “master sculptor, builder, and developer.”
His plan was to buy a parcel at Eureka owned by Fritz Klinke, planning commission chairman, and erect the 10-kilowatt windmill. Klinke recused himself from the discussion of the project.
Planning Commission member David Zanoni said the county is in the process of trying to attain ownership of much of the Eureka town site to develop as a campground.
“The county board will have to decide if they want a windmill in the middle of a campground,” Zanoni said. He added he favors alternative energy projects in the county, “but the placement of this leaves a lot to be desired.”
Deriugin said that “other cities are a lot more progressive and further along on alternative energy projects.”
He said the visual impact of of the windmill could be minimized by painting it.
And he questioned what is left to preserve at the old Eureka town site anyway.
“Normally with preservation of a town, the buildings are preserved,” Deriugin said.
Planning Director Adam Sickmiller recommended denying the project due to the adverse effects on historic and scenic values.
“The impact on a historic site is unquestionable, in the opinion of staff,” Sickmiller said. He also questioned how the project would impact neighboring property owners.
Sickmiller said there may be opportunity for alternative energy projects in San Juan County, “particularly in mind-scarred lands.”
By Mark Esper, editor
24 July 2008
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